The Fresh Loaf

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British (UK) Flour good for American Sourdough Recipes?

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JamieD's picture
JamieD

British (UK) Flour good for American Sourdough Recipes?

Hey everyone,

I'm going a bit post-mad at the moment but bear with me, I thought it might be worth starting a new thread specifically about people's experiences with adapting American sourdough recipes to british flour (the topic came up in my previous post here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/273617#comment-273617)

As discussed in that post, I've had serious problems with getting british flour to work with both the tartine and jim lahey no knead recipes - recipes that need a long rise - and we think it might be because british flour just hasn't been bred/manufactured to withstand long rises.... it just ends up like unworkable gloop.... not like it looks when americans bake it with King Arthur All Purpose (which appears to be the standard bread flour for american artisan bread recipes)

Are there any other British sourdough bakers who have had similar experiences with american recipes? If so do you have any recommendations?

I'm getting my hands on some T65 flour soon just because I'm so tired of having unworkable bread -- I'll make sure to make a post on my findings with that too :)

All contributions appreciated,

JamieD

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi JamieD,

There's nothing wrong with UK bread flour in terms of capacity to make any decent kind of bread

Best wishes

Andy

JamieD's picture
JamieD

Oh I have no doubt! The only problem I'm having is adapting recipes that are based on american flour.... is it that we leave it for less time? Add less water? Knead rather than stretch and fold? Stretch and fold more often?

What has been your experience?

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi JamieD,

I've made most of Hamelman's breads with UK flour, and never had a duff yet.

Your problems are due to process, not flour choice.   While it may be a little strong, Allinsons' flour is a perfectly acceptable choice when it comes to making long-fermentation breads.

Regarding French flour, T65 is a measure of ash content and gives no information about the gluten potential in that flour.   And the water absorption of the T65 is very unlikely to be better than Allinson flour.

I'm yet to make Tartine, so it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this point.

Best wishes

Andy

Henrylau's picture
Henrylau

I've been following the recipe from Tartine without any problems and getting good results with my bread. I've been using Canadian white and wholemeal flour from Waitrose.

Henry

JamieD's picture
JamieD

Hmmmm... I'm quite interested in that - isn't that flour something like 14 per cent protein? Do you find you have to alter the recipe at all like changing the hydration / increasing rising time? Does it result in a less airy crumb?

Henrylau's picture
Henrylau

I don't know about the percentage protein and whether it affects the bread. I have to say the rising time is quite long (set a loaf going this morning at 8 and I'm just on the final proof although my flat is very cold. The crumb seems to be fine, my last loaf was a bit closed but I was too eager and put it in the oven too early.

JamieD's picture
JamieD

Okay cool... it's interesting that you're seeming to have more success with your canadian flour than I am with my british.... though as other people have said this could also have something to do with technique....

How many times have you baked the tartine loaf?

Henrylau's picture
Henrylau

I think this will be my 6th time. Still trying to learn how to master it. Had a bit of a problem the first couple goes with keeping it moist for the first part of the bake as I don't have a dutch oven. Solved it by taking a handle off an old wok and putting that over my baking stone.

JamieD's picture
JamieD

I've probably baked it about 10 times - the first 6 weren't great because I didn't have a dutch oven... the next two were great but they were made with a turkish flour that I don't have access to anymore.... The last two made with Allisons flour have been pancakes - no oven spring whatsoever (my dad has had similar experiences making american sourdough recipes with british flours).....

....I might try that canadian flour next time I go shopping....

jemar's picture
jemar

For what it's worth, I use US recipes, ie. Hamellman and Ken Forkish and I bake in the UK with only British Flours and my bread, sourdough and yeasted works out fine, beautiful loaves!  I use mostly Allinson's but have also used  bread flour from Lidl and both give good results.  If I could master putting pictures on here I would show off my bread in photos.

Patf's picture
Patf

I agree with others who say that british bread flours produce beautiful bread, very reliable. I've tried several brands.

The only reservation is with some wholemeal flours, the cheaper ones can be very grainy and crumbly.

As to french flours, we live in France and I've tried french flour from different sources. in general they're low in gluten and the bread they produce dries out very quickly.

ArtizanKhubz's picture
ArtizanKhubz

Hi JaimieD

Glad you brought this up, I was looking for answers to the same problem. I've got a huntch on what it could be, but I've only tried the tartine recipe once, so I could be well off. I use dove farm's all purpose flour for most of my breads with 65-70% hydration mixed with some WW or rye, or just on its own, and I got no issues, with or without long bulk rises.

However with the tartine bread the dough turns out like you said, a big unworkable blob that sticks like anything, with proper shaping impossible. My guess is I should be using a high gluten bread flour instead of the AP (like Allinson or a canadian type), which might give the dough the strength it needs. I might go extreme caution and reduce the hydration a bit as well, but I'll leave that for attempt #3.

Don't get me wrong, I managed to get it into my dutch oven (couldn't score it properly for hell), and the crust and crumb were to die for, but it wouldn't win a beauty contest.

I'll report back in a few days when it's time for my second attempt with a different flour.

AK

cloud9's picture
cloud9

Hi AK, JamieD,

As a convert to the tartine method I initially found the final dough was slack, sticky and difficult to shape... although not impossible with floured hands, gentle stretching using the work surface for purchase, etc... However it tended to lose its 'strength' during rise and relax to an unappealing difficult to handle shape. This was using Doves farm white. 

My approach was to avoid reducing hydration and, instead, replace 5% of the white flour with stoneground wholewheat balechdre (spelling?)  flour. This appears to absorb the water better (in comparison to equivalent weight of white) allowing much better handling, shaping and ultimately baking. 

I don't know if UK white flour doesn't absorb as much water as US flour, or whether there's another issue I don't understand, but the partial replacement with wholewheat was preferable to reducing the hydration.

Happy Christmas,

cloud9